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News 19 Oct 17

Albanian Prosecution Seeks Arrest of Former Minister

The Serious Crimes Prosecutor has asked Albania's parliament to lift MP and former minister Saimir Tahiri's immunity, so that he can be arrested in relation to drugs smuggling charges. 

Fatjona Mejdini
BIRN
Tirana
Saimir Tahiri during a press conference on Tuesday. Photo: LSA/Malton Dibra

Albania's Prosecution Office for Serious Crimes has asked the country's parliament to greenlight the arrest of MP and former Interior Minister Samir Tahiri, after confirming it suspected he had played a role in a crime ring smuggling cannabis to Italy.

Tahiri's name came from transcripts that Italian police that wiretapped while investigating a criminal smuggling ring made up of Albanians and Italians, six of whom they arrested on Monday.

Among those arrested and sought were Moisi and Florian Habilaj, distant cousins of the former minister.

He denied any implication in the matter of his cousins and at a press conference on Tuesday, said he would not oppose parliament lifting his MP immunity for further investigation.

“Two criminals, very distant cousins of mine, have mentioned my name but it is not the first time criminals have used a minister’s name,” he said.

The arrest of the six cannabis smugglers in Italy prompted Albanian police and the Serious Crimes Prosecution to conduct their own search operation in villages near Vlora, after wiretapping identified other criminal elements related to the same crime ring in this area.

During the operation, police seized four tons of cannabis and arrested Armando Kocerri, 31, who has been identified as a collaborator with the Habilaj brothers.

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